Osler brings care to LTC facilities through Telemedicine

Osler is bringing high-quality health care to residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities with its expanded geriatric Telemedicine clinic. The program, which began as a pilot in August 2014, has been implemented in three facilities in the Central West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) with the goal of being rolled out across the region.

The geriatric Telemedicine clinic enables Osler geriatricians to connect with patients and their most responsible physician (MRP) using video-conferencing technology supplied by the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN). This virtual interaction helps to remove barriers to care and creates opportunities to provide preventative medicine in a familiar environment that reduces stress and disruption to patients.

This real time subspecialty expertise is provided by Osler geriatricians to help clinicians and other health care providers better manage patients requiring support for dementia, polypharmacy (the use of four or more medications per patient), delirium, depression, pain management, fall prevention and multiple chronic diseases.

To date, care teams for 12 patients have consulted with Osler geriatricians and more appointments are scheduled for February. Initial feedback from LTC facility staff has been very positive, as patient follow ups are happening quicker and families appreciate having access to Osler geriatricians.

In one instance, a patient without the financial resources or family support to travel to Osler for outpatient care was seen on multiple occasions for dementia-related symptoms, polypharmacy and pain control. After the recommendations made by the Osler geriatrician were enacted, the care team saw a remarkable improvement in the patient’s demeanour, comfort and alertness by the third Telemedicine appointment. This is an early indication of how this clinic can dramatically improve outcomes for some of the most vulnerable patients.

The clinic, managed by the nurse-led LTC outreach team, aims to improve not only collaborative care between Osler and LTC facilities but provide the following system-wide benefits:

  • Reduced emergency department admissions;
  • Fewer hospital readmissions from LTC homes;
  • Timely access to services without needing to travel; and,
  • Improved patient satisfaction.

As Osler strives to create an impact beyond our community through education and innovation, the use of Telemedicine technology stands to do just this. Osler’s geriatric Telemedicine clinic marks the first phase of the program expansion with the hope of offering increased access to palliative and wound care services in the future.